Nikon 1 V1 review

Available in a glossy white or roughened matt black, Nikon’s Tonka toy-like V1 tops its ‘1’ range of cameras that includes the cheaper, smaller and lighter J1. As well as being Nikon’s first mirror-less, interchangeable lens CSC, it’s one of only two such models (along with Sony’s £1,000+ NEX-7) to feature a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF) as well as an LCD screen. Previously you had to look to DSLR-styled CSCs to find both, as this enthusiast-pleasing extra adds a little bulk.

Effective resolution is a modest-sounding 10.1 megapixels, which is actually a sensible choice as the 1in sensor at the heart of this Nikon is no match, size wise, for a DSLR or the APS-C sized sensor in the competing Sony NEX-C3. And the more pixels you cram on a small sensor, the greater the noise/grain in low light. As it was, we were comfortably able to shoot clean pictures up to ISO1600 on the V1, which proved handy as this camera doesn’t feature a built-in flash, or in-body image stabilisation. An optional tilting flashgun can be added via the accessory port, as can a GPS unit or external microphone.

Nikon sent us the super-swift dual processor-equipped camera with a 10mm fixed focal length (non zoom) lens, the most compact among its current compatible optics – equivalent to a wide angle 27mm in 35mm terms. The alternatives of 10-30mm and 30-110mm zooms also worked well, and better than on the lighter J1, as the V1’s weightier body provides a steadier hold when shooting at longer focal lengths.

There’s a slight sense of Nikon holding back with the largely gimmick-free V1, however. Unlike, say, Olympus or Panasonic, who’ve gone in all guns blazing for the CSC market, Nikon doesn’t want to eat into its traditional, and very successful, DSLR user base. So the V1’s performance falls in between one of Nikon’s Coolpix point-and-shoot compacts and more feature packed F-mount DSLRs. Its image quality is good – in fact most consumers will be more than satisfied – but not so amazing as to mount a convincing challenge to its DSLRs for the enthusiast or pro.

Nikon hopes its first CSC will appeal to the family user as much as the enthusiast and add to, rather than detract from, its DSLRs

OUR VERDICT

Nikon is clear that this is a first-generation product, however, and more is to come; not yet a game changer but a showy and confident start.

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